One of the most common questions people have when they are interested in selling online is where they should set up shop to sell their items. While there are several online platforms to choose from, most people debate whether to pick Etsy or eBay for their work-at-home reselling business.
eBay is very well known for the array of unique and rare to popular items for sale on their site. If someone is looking for a deal, they will most likely check eBay for the item in question first.
Another favorable haven for sellers is Etsy. Etsy isn’t just a spot for crafters to sell their handmade items. There are plenty of Etsy shops that list products in the vintage, craft supplies, and printable niches.
Both have several things in common: user-friendly apps, promotions manager tools, simplistic payment options, and discounts on shipping labels.
Here are six things to consider when choosing where to sell your items.
1. What to Sell
The first decision is what you want to sell. Most people “test the waters” by selling items that they no longer use or need from around their homes. If all goes well, you’ll run out of items and need to consider what you could make a profit on reselling.
Just remember, not everything can be sold on Etsy. Only handmade items, crafting supplies, or vintage items (20+ years or older) can be listed on their website. You can find almost anything on Etsy: toys, jewelry, personalized gifts, handmade figurines, etc.
You can sell anything from a dirty sock, a concert ticket, or a mansion on eBay. There are restrictions to what you can and cannot sell, though. For example, alcohol is absolutely prohibited from selling on eBay and Etsy, for that matter.
2. Payment Processing Fees
Each site, whether you use Etsy or eBay, will require a transaction fee. The most prominent concern that most people have is how much it will cost to start selling their items. Both sites require a listing fee, unless you open an eBay store. If you open an eBay store, then the fees are figured into your subscription fees.
To put it simply, eBay fees are higher than Etsy’s. eBay typically charges an insertion fee, plus a final value fee, and they also take a cut on what you charge for shipping. So, when you sell on eBay, it’s critical for you to remember to list your items in a way that will make it worth your time. Otherwise, you could end up selling a lot of things but actually lose money.
Etsy fees are much more black and white:
- No membership fees, which means you pay nothing to open a store on Etsy.
- Every listing that you post will cost $0.20. It will stay active for four whole months or until the item sells.
- Once your item sells, Etsy will collect 3.5% of the sale price.
Both sites offer similar selling options, such as free shipping and ad rates. For some reason, Etsy seller seems to have a much higher sale rate from Canada than eBay. I’m not sure if it has to do with the fees for Canadians or if it’s because they generally prefer Etsy.
Keeping a daily budget can help you stay on top of your selling fees. If you list on Etsy, you will automatically know that you are being charged per item listed. If you operate an eBay store, then make sure to stay within your selling limits to avoid any additional selling insertion fees.
Conveniently, both offer user-friendly apps to list your items. I also frequently use the eBay app to determine a good starting price for most of my items, whether I sell them on eBay or Etsy.
Both platforms offer advertisements as a way to promote your listings. Each has a separate advertising fee, which is completely different than their other fees. For example, eBay’s promotion fees are generated at the end of the sale. You get to choose the amount, which can range from 1-20% of the final sale price.
On Etsy, however, advertising can be a little more expensive. If a shopper clicks on an ad that is offsite, they will charge you 12-15%. Sellers who make over $10,000 per year pay 12%. Everyone else is charged 15%.
3. Highest Sale Price
As a seller on both Etsy and eBay, I struggle with this one at least once a week. If I can’t find an item anywhere online that has recently sold, I usually get excited. To me, that indicates that the item could be rare or have potential value. On the other hand, it could also mean that nobody wants the item that I have already envisioned as my retirement fund.
The positive side of selling on eBay is that they still offer an auction-style listing for bidders. Or, you may be familiar with the “Buy It Now” way of purchasing through eBay, which is ideal for people looking to make a quick sale.
However, if you have the patience and guts to try an auction-style listing, you could rake in the big bucks if you get people battling each other in a “bidding war.” A bidding war refers to two or more buyers actively interested in the same item, potentially paying far more than anyone had expected. It happens, and when it does, it’s like hitting the jackpot for sellers.
When I compare sales reports between the two, they don’t automatically show how much you’ve earned compared to what it cost you to list and sell the items. So, basic bookkeeping knowledge and good organizational skills are critical.
4. Etsy Plus
Etsy Plus is a fairly new option for sellers to stand out better from the competition on their site and other sites. It includes credits for Etsy ads and shop listings. It also includes advanced shop customization (which can be very attractive to potential buyers), restock requests, and access to special web address discounts. It’s a great way to generate more buyers for your shop.
However, if you are not getting a lot of traffic to your shop already, you may want to brush up on your SEO skills, mainly for offsite ads. The more clicks you get, the higher the chances of people finding your store and items. Otherwise, Etsy plus would not be a good fit for you right now. Also, Etsy Plus does cost a flat fee of $10 per month.
5. Your Niche
When choosing between Etsy vs eBay, it’s important to consider the niches and categories you want to sell. For example, homemade and personalized items would have a higher chance of selling on Etsy since that is what their platform is mostly about. However, Etsy also has a strong following for vintage buyers and sellers.
eBay may be better suited for a merchant who wants to sell bulk items or non-vintage goods. As an eBay seller, I highly recommend eBay because it is a larger platform, and while it costs more to sell there, you are much more likely to have your items viewed by potential buyers.
6. Payment Options
Payment options are a bit different for each site. Etsy payments allow users to accept major credit cards, Etsy Gift Cards, coupons, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, and more. Once you sell an item, the money goes into an account. You can choose to have your money dispensed into your banking account on a daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis.
Receiving payments from eBay sales is very similar, but the main difference is that they hold the buyer’s payment for up to 2 days before allowing a payment disbursement on your end. Your payout will show as Funds Sent, and it can take between 1-3 business days for you to receive them.
So, who pays for shipping if you aren’t being paid right away? Shipping fees are automatically paid for by the buyer unless you offer free shipping, which will then be deducted from your final payout.
My final verdict as to who is the best bang for your buck really depends on what you sell, how much you sell, and how you plan to sell. There are many forums online that can help you decide and even several Facebook groups that discuss the ins and outs of selling on each site.
Originally published May 21, 2015. Content updated July 2022.